Dennis Miller and Adam Carolla get real at the Grove
Dennis Miller and Adam Carolla have never really been short on words. The comedians met a few years back after Miller got his hands on Carolla's first book, "In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks." He couldn't put it down.
Soon after, he invited the former co-host of "Loveline" and "The Man Show" to be a guest on his nationally syndicated Dial Global Radio talk show, "The Dennis Miller Show."
"I read both his books," Miller says with a laugh, including Carolla's follow up, "Not Taco Bell Material." "I remember reading (the first book) in bed at night and I'd laugh out loud, and my wife would say, 'What in God's name are you reading?' It absolutely killed me."
After being on Miller's radio show, Carolla returned the favor by having Miller on his self-named free podcast, begun in 2009, which two years later became the Guinness World Record holder for most downloaded podcast, beating the previous honoree, "The Ricky Gervais Show." The two outspoken social commentators got along swimmingly and decided to do a one-off live show, taking place tonight at City National Grove of Anaheim.
Carolla points out that it won't be strictly a "stand-up" show, but rather carry more of an "evening with" vibe.
"I'll do my 30 minutes or whatever and Dennis will do his 30 minutes of stand-up and then we'll come together and do some Q&A stuff," he says. "I think people want to see us together and interacting a little bit. My instinct is telling me that people want to laugh, but that they also kind of want to hear our opinions on things."
Having tackled the world of podcasting while hitting the road to make appearances with "Loveline" host Dr. Drew Pinsky and, more recently, author and radio personality Dennis Prager, Carolla says there no longer seems to be any specific set of rules to how these sorts of shows should be run.
"Look, I'm used to being on stage and towing the line," he adds. "I'm perfectly fine with going up there and sitting back and formulating a thought while someone else talks for a change. I'd be more than happy to have Dennis take the lead in any way he'd like to. I look at him as the headliner because he was doing comedy when I was doing construction, so that makes him the headliner in my mind."
Carolla says he always looked up to Miller and admired his stand-up, which has been politically caustic going back even before his time as "Weekend Update" anchor on "Saturday Night Live," primarily in the late '80s.
"When you watch that guy work, it's impressive," he continues. "He's not one of these guys – like Doug Benson, he's a good friend of mine and a great comedian, but when you watch him do comedy, you kinda go 'I might be able to do that. I could get stoned and get up there and tell some stories and get some laughs. That sounds fun.'
"But when you see Dennis Miller do what he does, you go 'eh, I don't think I can do that.' Dennis Miller has probably convinced more would-be comedians to never start their career."
Likewise, Miller says he likes Carolla's pragmatism and can't wait to hear the questions the audience throws at them.
"The beauty of it is that I don't expect anything," he insists. "I don't know if the questions will be aggressive or more conversational, or more liberal or conservative. I think Adam and I ... we're probably both socially liberal guys who are thought to be right-wingers in these Hatfields & McCoys times we live in. I'm on his page ... we'll certainly sort it out when we're on stage together."
Aside from the jokes and the Q&A session, Carolla and Miller are both excited about sharing with the crowd Carolla's new signature wine, Mangria. The adult beverage, containing 20.9 percent alcohol, has been mentioned on his podcast for a while: It was developed one night while knocking back a few in his L.A. home when he realized he was almost out of red wine. Unwilling to head to the store for more, Carolla went to the kitchen and began mixing what was left of it with vodka, juices and various fruits – basically whatever was available and sounded good.
"I came up with this concoction and called it Mangria, and it was good," he recalls. "Everyone thought it was a joke, and it was a joke, but it was still good, and I laughed about it for a year and a half. I would go to Jimmy (Kimmel's) Fourth of July party and make a pitcher of Mangria and take it (around) with me, and at a certain point someone said, 'Well, you're going to talk about it, you might as well make it.'
"Somebody got hold of a guy who works in Sonoma. We worked together: I gave him the recipe and he made me a bunch of different samples. The next thing you know, we have Mangria."
Both of his books have landed on the New York Times' best-seller list, but before that Carolla had been on numerous TV shows, including stints on reality shows like "Dancing with the Stars" and "The Celebrity Apprentice." Yet Mangria, the 48-year-old entrepreneur says, is his most exciting endeavor.
"We sold 10,000 bottles in a month," he says of the stuff, which for now is available for purchase exclusively at his shows and at buymangria.com. "We'll have some at the Grove. People really like it, and unfortunately I love it the most, which is a little scary. It tastes like sangria except for it has double the alcohol as sangria, so that's the kicker. It can get you kind of fast. That's the beauty of it – it doesn't take too much."
While Carolla plans on expanding that brand, Miller, who turned 59 this month, says he may take a break from politically-charged comedy. Despite considering himself socially liberal, he's become known for conservative views, has been a regular commentator on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" and is obviously not stoked about the result of the recent election.
But that isn't ruining his life, either: "You get into that fever pitch as you head into an election, especially when you're hosting a three-hour radio show. But then the next day, like anything, you say, 'Oh damn, I wish it had gone my way.'
"Like I said on 'O'Reilly,' it's my 'lump in the armpit theory.' You can be in the shower and be groaning about election results, then find a lump in your armpit – and all of a sudden all of that goes away so quickly. You're not standing there thinking 'oh, my guy didn't win the election.' Instead you're going 'what the hell is this lump?'"
Ever since his 1985-1991 stint on "SNL," where his mock news reports became the most popular on the "Weekend Update" desk since originator Chevy Chase, Miller says he's gently been pushed in the direction of political humor. But now he wants to take a stab at writing an all-new, completely apolitical hour of comedy.
"I'm going to just see what that's like and try to write one, and if I get a good one I'm going to pitch it to HBO," he says. "I don't know what I'd call it – maybe just 'Jokes' or something – but that's something that intrigues me."
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